Integrating Primary Care & Behavioral Health at Lynn CHC: Kiame Mahaniah & Mark Alexakos

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Primary care models integrating behavioral health services are being adopted across the country. This week, we talked with two leaders at the Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC), Dr. Mark Alexakos and Dr. Kiame Mahaniah, about their experience with integration.

LCHC is unique among community health centers in that it started out as a mental health counseling center, and now has the largest community health center-based behavioral health program in Massachusetts. In this conversation, we talk about what it means to integrate behavioral health services with primary care clinical services – how it can reduce the fragmentation of services to better meet the needs of patients and the demand for mental health care (2:40), why it may better position clinics participating in accountable care (7:40), what successes they’ve seen (8:45), and the resources it has required (12:28). Along the way, our guests make it clear that the staff at LCHC love working in integrated teams. You can learn more about various other models of integrated behavioral health here.

Mark Alexakos MD, MPP, is the chief behavioral health officer of LCHC. He has a joint degree in medicine and public policy and developed an early interest in the interface between policy, research, and service delivery as they relate to access barriers, health disparities, and community health. Before working at LCHC, he spent seven years developing intensive, school-based mental health services that combined health promotion and prevention with quick access to behavioral health treatment in five Boston Public Schools.

Kiame Mahaniah, MD, is the chief executive officer of LCHC, though at the time of this interview, he served as the chief medical officer. His passion resolves around social and restorative justice, in the context of healthcare.   His twin clinical interests are teaching—he holds an appointment at the Tufts University School of Medicine—and integrating opioid addiction treatment into the primary care/behavioral health matrix.

This interview was edited lightly for length and clarity.

photo credit: Lynn Community Health Center

Lori Tishler of Commonwealth Care Alliance – Caring for the Most Vulnerable Patients

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Have you ever felt lonely and overwhelmed in a clinic room with a patient whose needs are far beyond your skills and ability to meet? I have, many times, and so has our guest this week, Dr. Lori Tishler. Dr. Tishler is the Vice President of Medical Affairs at Commonwealth Care Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that cares for more than 20,000 of the most vulnerable patients in Massachusetts, duals, or individuals who have both Medicare and Medicaid.

We talk about how CCA’s member-centered approach (as opposed to a physician-centered approach) has helped her feel more effective in caring for these vulnerable patients. We talk about the range of services that CCA offers, the role of their care partners, and the freedom that their financial model permits – for example, they provide 90% of care to patients in their homes.

You can find the Atlantic Magazine article we referenced featuring CCA here, and find a few Health Affairs blogs featuring CCA here, and a blog post focusing on building the business case for a community paramedicine program here.

A bit more about our guest: Lori Tishler is the Vice President of Medical Affairs at Commonwealth Care Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that cares for more than 20,000 of the most vulnerable patients in Massachusetts, people who have both Medicare and Medicaid.  She oversees CCA’s physicians and is involved with clinical aspects of quality, utilization, and pharmacy.  In addition, she is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and an active member of the General Medicine Faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, As a caring and connected physician leader, mentor, and educator, Dr. Tishler’s passion has been providing care for the medically and socially vulnerable and making a difference in health systems for all.   Tishler has found that the most rewarding way to help change and grow our health care systems is to mentor learners who are interested in clinical care, leadership, and innovation.

Her leadership roles have extended outside of the clinic and outside of primary care.  She served on the Partners Healthcare Board of Directors, the Board of Directors for the Office for Women’s Careers, and the Board of the Schwartz Rounds while at the Brigham.  At Commonwealth Care Alliance, she teaches and presents nationally about our care model and innovations.

In addition to her leadership work, she continues to provide clinical care  Tishler feels that working as a clinician informs her choices and decisions as a leader.  Outside of work, Dr. Tishler loves to spend time with her husband and teenaged daughter, to travel, read, and knit.  She is honored to have been interviewed on Review of Systems.

If you enjoyed the show, please give us 5 stars wherever you listen. Tweet us your thoughts @rospodcast and check out our facebook page at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems. Or, you can email us at audreyATrospod.org. We’d love to hear from you, and thanks for listening.

Understanding High Utilization of Unscheduled Care in Pregnant Women of Low Socioeconomic Status – Mehta et al

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This week, we are discussing an article from the Journal Women’s Health Issues, entitled: Understanding High Utilization of Unscheduled Care in Pregnant Women of Low Socioeconomic Status, by Pooja Mehta, Tamala Carter, Cjloe Vinoya, Shreya Kangovi, and Sindhu Srinivas. Pooja Mehta, the lead author of the study, joins us for our conversation. 

You can find the interview with Dr. David Buck referenced in our conversation here.

Dr. Mehta is Director of Maternal & Women’s Health Policy for the Consortium for Health Care Transformation, and Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Systems Management and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, advising the Louisiana Department of Health and Medicaid Program.

Dr. Mehta’s interests are in the use of health care delivery innovation and community-engaged accountable care models to reduce reproductive health disparities, pregnancy-associated mortality, and low-value care, and to support patients with complex health and social needs. Her research has been supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes, google play, stitcher or your favorite podcasting app, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @RoSpodcastand are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at audrey@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Listen at the end of the episode for a promo code to receive 15% off registration fees for an upcoming conference from the Harvard Center for Primary Care: Primary Care in 2020 – Future Challenges, Tips for Today.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Frederick Chen – Teaching Health Centers

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Teaching health centers (THCs) are primary care residency training sites in community-based organizations, often in federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), in contrast to traditional tertiary care hospital-based training. Federal funding for the THC program, created by the ACA in 2010 and renewed through MACRA in 2015, is set to expire on September 30, 2017.

THCs may be a key part in solving the primary care workforce shortage, so we talked with Dr. Frederick Chen, Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Washington and a recent senior advisor to HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions for the Teaching Health Center program.

We review flaws in traditional methods of funding graduate medical education in the US (2:50) then discuss Freddy’s research (8:15) showing that residents trained in FQHCs are 3-4 times more likely to go work in underserved settings. He also describes the key factors in creating community health center-family medicine residency partnership (12:20). Freddy’s work led to the THC graduate medical education program, an innovative federal policy that aims to increase access to primary care where it is needed the most, and we talk about some of the early lessons since its inception (18:50). You can also find the controversial 2014 Institute of Medicine report mentioned by Freddy in our conversation here.  Finally, Freddy shares about how his academic career led him to help shape national health policy (23:07).

Listen at the end of the episode for a promo code to receive 15% off registration fees for an upcoming conference from the Harvard Center for Primary Care: Primary Care in 2020 – Future Challenges, Tips for Today.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Journal Club – Association Between Process Measures & Mortality in Individuals with Opioid Use Disorders

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This week, we are discussing a recent article from the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, entitled: Association between process measures and mortality in individuals with opioid use disorders, by Katherine Watkins and colleagues: Susan Paddock, Teresa Hudson, Songthip Ounpraseuth, Amy Schrader, Kimberly Hepner, and Bradley Stein. We are also joined by a guest discussant, Gabriel Wishik. Gabriel Wishik is a clinician educator in general and addiction medicine, and is an instructor at Boston University and Boston Medical Center. He is the clinic medical director at Boston’s Healthcare for the Homeless Program’s largest clinical site and practices harm reduction in primary care with a population at the front lines of the current opioid epidemic. You can find the obituary we shared on the show here.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes, google play, stitcher or your favorite podcasting app, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @RoSpodcastand are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at contact@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Listen at the end of the episode for a promo code to receive 15% off registration fees for an upcoming conference from the Harvard Center for Primary Care: Primary Care in 2020 – Future Challenges, Tips for Today.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Joshua Freeman – Designing a Fair & Equitable Healthcare System

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Dr. Joshua Freeman is a family physician, health policy researcher, social justice activist, and writer.  He publishes a widely-read blog, “Medicine and Social Justice”, and in 2015 published a book, Health, Medicine and Justice: Designing a fair and equitable healthcare system (Copernicus Healthcare press), which is available on Amazon and other sites, in both softcover and electronic versions.

This week, Thomas Kim chats with Dr. Freeman about some of the major themes of the book: why the US health care system fails to produce a healthy population, the role of profit in American medicine, why he uses social justice to frame his analyses and commentary, and how the American health care system could become more primary care-centered.

Dr. Freeman is Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, where he served as the Alice M. Patterson MD and Harold L. Patterson MD Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine from 2002-2016, and was also Professor in the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Public Health and of Health Policy and Management. He was a Fulbright Scholar in São Paulo, Brazil in 2003 and served nationally as Treasurer of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and the Association of Departments of Family Medicine. He received STFM’s highest honor, the Recognition Award, in 2006. He served as a member of the board of trustees of Roosevelt University in Chicago, as assistant editor of the journal Family Medicine, and also on the board of Southwest Boulevard Family Health Center in Kansas City, KS.

Dr. Freeman is a graduate of the Loyola-Stritch School of Medicine, family medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, and faculty development fellowship and Preventive Medicine residency at the University of Arizona.

This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

David Himmelstein – Blending Research & Advocacy

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Our guest this week is David Himmelstein. He is a distinguished professor of public health and health policy in the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, adjunct clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has served as chief of the division of social and community medicine at Cambridge Hospital.

David has authored or co-authored more than 100 journal articles and three books, including widely cited studies of medical bankruptcy and the high administrative costs of the U.S. health care system. His 1984 study of patient dumping led to the enactment of EMTALA, the law that banned that practice. He is also a co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and is a principal author of PNHP articles published in the JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine in conjunction with Dr. Steffie Woolhandler.

We talk about how he got his start in research by looking at patient dumping practices as a trainee, and how he views advocacy as a natural outgrowth of his research findings. We also talk about his work as a leader in advocacy for a national health insurance program and talk about a few common arguments against such policy changes. Lastly, he gives some advice for folks early in their career who would like to follow his model of research blended with advocacy.

If you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes, google play, or stitcher, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @rospodcast and are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at contact@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you, and thanks for listening.

Journal Club – Los Angeles Safety Net Program eConsult System Was Rapidly Adopted and Decreased Wait Times to See Specialists

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For this week’s journal club, we are talking about a recent paper from Health Affairs entitled: Los Angeles Safety Net Program eConsult System Was Rapidly Adopted and Decreased Wait Times to See Specialists  by Michael Barnett, Hal F. Yee Jr, Ateev Mehotra, and Paul Giboney. The paper describes and analyzes data from an e-consult system that was rolled out to a network of hundreds of safety-net clinics in Los Angeles County. We are thrilled to have the lead author, Michael Barnett, join us for our discussion! Michael is an Assistant Professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a primary care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He publishes prolifically on a variety of topics, and is particularly interested in the primary care-specialty care interface.

Do you use e-consults in your practice? Or do you wish you had access to such a system? Please tweet us your thoughts @RoSpodcast, or drop us a line at contact@rospod.org. And, let us know what manuscripts you think we should look at in future journal clubs or who we should have on to talk about their work. We look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for listening.

Dennis Dimitri – Supervised Injection Facilities

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Today we are joined by Dr. Dennis Dimitri, the immediate past-president of the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) and current chair of the society’s Task Force on Opioid Prescribing and Physician Communication, to discuss supervised injection facilities, or SIFs. A SIF is a location where individuals may use illegal drugs under the supervision of a medical professional ready to assist in case of an overdose requiring treatment.

Later this month, the MMS will vote on whether to advocate for a task force to assess the feasibility of a pilot SIF in the state of Massachusetts. If the proposal is approved, the MMS will become the first statewide physician organization in the Bay State to advocate for such a pilot program.

We discuss with Dr. Dimitri what it would mean should the MMS advocate for SIFs. We review the evidence on the effect of SIFs on rates of fatal overdoseuptake of Substance Use Disorder treatment, and rates of transmission of HIV and HCV. We talk about the ethical considerations of such a program, whether SIFs enable behaviors harmful to people’s health or they represent harm reduction, and the complex legal considerations involved with a potential pilot program.

Major events of the opioid epidemic in the last few years, such as business owners planning for the possibility of overdose in bathrooms and a recent HIV outbreak stemmed by a needle exchange program in Indiana, raise the potential benefits of SIFs. If you’re interested in reading more, check out recent guest Dr. Sarah Wakeman‘s compassionate and evidence-based case for SIFs in this recent NEJM article. You can also listen to our past episode Dr. Jessie Gaeta on the SPOT program (supportive place for observation and treatment) when she also gave her thoughts on SIFs.

Dr. Dimitri is a family physician and Vice Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at University of Massachusetts and the UMass Memorial Medical Center.

What do you think? In the face of the opioid epidemic, could pilot SIFs in the US also reduce overdose deaths as in Canada and Australia? Tweet us your thoughts at @rospodcast or leave a comment on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Or, drop us a line directly at contact@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you – and thanks for listening.

Graphic from of Centers for Disease Control, Opioid Overdose.

Seth Berkowitz – Food Insecurity and Chronic Disease

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This week we are joined by Seth Berkowitz to talk about his research examining the associations between food insecurity and health outcomes. Seth is a primary care physician, Instructor of Medicine, and is on faculty in the Division of General Internal Medicine and the Diabetes Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Seth’s research interests include population management, food insecurity, cost-related medication underuse and the impact of adverse social circumstances on chronic disease management. His goal is to develop and disseminate interventions and care delivery models that address social and economic needs.

Today he joins us to talk about a recent collaboration, funded by an award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evidence for Action Program, with Community Servings. Community Servings is a Boston-based non-profit organization dedicated to bringing medically tailored meals to chronically ill adults. The study aims to assess whether individuals receiving the medically tailored meals have lower rates of inpatient hospitalization, ED utilization, and medical expenditures.

You can find a piece co-authored by Seth and David Waters, the CEO of Community Servings here, and the Health Affairs article Seth and I talked about examining the effect of eliminating use of SNAP, or food stamps, for sugary sweetened beverages here.

Lastly, if you like the show, please rate and review us on itunes or stitcher, which makes the show easier for others to find; and share us on social media. We tweet at @rospodcast and are on facebook at www.facebook.com/reviewofsystems.  Please drop us a line at contact@rospod.org. We’d love to hear from you.